Friday, August 21, 2015



Stopped in the tiny town of Idaho Springs, Colorado---walked around---saw this;  a guy making a staff.
A bell went off in my brain.  I walked up to him and said: "One of the great minds of  America has something to say to you.  He stopped whittling and said "OK".
I said: "I'll be right back with the message."  Then I went to my rig and found the passage in Walden by Henry David Thoreau; 

 hurried back and read it to him:

"There was an artist in the city of Kouroo who was disposed to strive after perfection.  One day it came into his mind to make a staff.  Having considered that in an imperfect work time is an ingredient, but into a perfect work time does not enter, he said to himself, it shall be perfect in all respects, though I should do nothing else in my life.  He proceeded instantly to the forest for wood, being resolved that it should not be made of unsuitable material; and as he searched for and rejected stick after stick, his friends gradually deserted him for they grew old in their works and died, but he grew not older by a moment.  His singleness of purpose and resolution, and his elevated piety, endowed him, without his knowledge, with perennial youth.  As he made no compromise with Time, Time kept out of his way, and only sighed at a distance because he could not overcome him.  Before he had found a stick in all respects suitable, the city of Kouroo was a hoary ruin, and he sat on one of its mounds to peel the stick.  Before he had given it the proper shape, the dynasty of the Candahars was at an end, and with the point of the stick he wrote the name of the last of that race in the sand, and then resumed his work.  By the time he had smoothed and polished the staff, Kalpa was no longer the pole star; and ere he had put on the ferule and the head adorned with precious stones, Brahma had awoke and slumbered many times.  But why do I stay to mention these things?  When the finishing stroke was put to his work, it suddenly expanded before the eyes of the astonished artist into the fairest of all the creations of Brahma.  He had made a new system in making a staff, a world with full and fair proportions; in which, though the old cities and dynasties had passed away, fairer and more glorious ones had taken their places.  And now he saw by the heaps of shavings still fresh at his feet that. for him and his work, the former lapse of time had been an illusion, and that no more time had elapsed than is required for a single scintillation from the brain of Brahma to fall on and inflame the tinder of a mortal brain. The material was pure and his art was pure; how could the result be other than wonderful.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  This was not a learned man---and he likely did not know about Brahma or what kalpa means---but he got the drift of the quote and sensed that his life had been touched by profundity---for he turned and looked at me for a thoughtful moment and said "thank you."

One group who would surely have agreed with the point of this story is the Shakers who actually tried to live the philosophy that satisfaction comes from excellence.  That is why a simple chair made by them sells today for thousands.  Wanna see one? Click here .


Wayne Wirs said...

You could almost say that the quote from the Shaker Chair page you linked to is not only the answer to a long and happy life (creative pursuit), but the answer to a meaningful one also:

"Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful."

Rob said...

I was looking at a bridge the other day and thought that the only reason a bridge wasn't nice looking was because ... I don't know why they make ugly bridges.

Al Christensen said...

I think perfection is subjective and personal. Anything flawed thing that brings joy to my life is therefore perfect.